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EASC Newsletter

A publication of the East Asian Studies Center, Indiana University

December 2014

IU East Asia News

EASC Holds 2014 NCTA Teaching East Asian Literature in the High School Workshop

This past July, EASC hosted its 16th annual Freeman Foundation-funded workshop on Teaching East Asian Literature in the High School on the IU Bloomington campus. Eighteen high school English and world literature teachers from all across the nation participated in an intensive week of lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities led by an outstanding group of East Asian specialists. The crew included Chinese literature specialist Gary Xu (EALC and Comparative Literature, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), China historian Yu Shen (History, IU Southeast), Japanese literature specialist Andra Alvis (Asian Studies, DePauw University), Japan historian Susan Furukawa (Modern Languages and Literature, Beloit College), and Korean literature and history specialist Sean Kim (History and Anthropology, University of Central Missouri).

Every afternoon Cecilia Boyce (English, Hillsborough High School, Tampa, FL), a curriculum consultant, led teaching strategy sessions to assist teachers in developing lesson plans for their classrooms. In addition to attending lectures and discussions, participants also enjoyed cultural activities such as a tour of the IU Art Museum, a gayageum (a Korean traditional musical instrument with twelve strings) performance, sampling Japanese snacks, as well as screenings of East Asian films. As a final activity, participants used works such as Yasutaka Tsutsui’s Japanese science fiction short story Standing Woman; the modern Korean fiction piece Mama and the Boarder by Yo-sǒp Chu; and the preface to the Chinese political allegory Call to Arms by Lu Xun to create syllabi designed to introduce high school students to the great possibilities of East Asian literature. For more information about the July 2014 workshop please click here.

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Chinese Flagship Summer Institute 2014

Dates: June 6–August 1, 2014

Levels: Second- and Third-Year Chinese

Number of students: 37 undergraduate and graduate students from around the country.

The 2014 summer Flagship Chinese Institute (FCI) combined a rigorous curriculum, active learning both inside the classroom and out, and residential living to produce an exceptionally successful program. The experiential and immersive activities gave students not only strong gains in their proficiency but also an unforgettable and cherished experience.

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EASC Graduate Assistant and Others Intern with Seoul Metropolitan Government

Each year, the city of Seoul hosts an international internship program for students pursuing careers in international public affairs. Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) has partnered with the program, sending several of its students each summer to participate. This summer, five SPEA graduate students travelled to South Korea and worked for eight weeks within the Seoul Metropolitan Government, in departments including human resources and the city’s art museum.

EASC graduate assistant Kayleigh Burgess worked for the University of Seoul’s International Summer School program, which welcomed more than 80 students from 20 countries for a summer of studies. Drawing on her experience as outreach assistant for the EASC National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) seminars, Kayleigh provided program support to international faculty and participants. She also helped create and enrich English language materials for the university’s Institute of International Cooperation and Education.

Seoul’s SPEA interns explored modern Korean life and its ancient cultural traditions. They cultivated a love for tteokbokki, soju and Korean dramas and a respect for the country’s beauty and history. More information on the program, which will continue to be offered through SPEA, can be found here.

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IU Art Museum and EASC Sponsor "Good Mourning: Coping with Grief in a Confucian Way"

In partnership with the IU Art Museum, on September 20 assistant professor Michael Ing (Religious Studies) gave a talk titled “Good Mourning: Coping with Grief in a Confucian Way.” Ing’s lecture explored issues of how grief was traditionally dealt with in a Confucian Chinese context. Drawing from prescriptions found in ancient texts such as the Book of Rites (禮記 Liji), Ing recounted details that characterized the mourning ritual in ancient China. The mourning rites, he theorized, were in effect a means to reconcile two seemingly contradictory human impulses: the first, to maintain a sense of connection to the deceased; the second, to acknowledge and adjust to the permanent change in the living’s relationship with the deceased. These competing values led to a carefully ritualized negotiation of mourning in ancient China that somehow managed to get the best of both worlds. He explained, for example, that funerary artifacts such as articles of clothing, musical instruments, and culinary utensils were commonly buried along with the deceased, but that these items were not brought to completion or a readily-usable condition (for instance, a ladle might have its rough shape but not be carved out so that it could scoop food, or an instrument might be strung but not tuned). By providing ostensibly useful items to the dead but stripping them of their usefulness, the ritual epitomized the continued concern felt by the living for the welfare of their deceased loved ones, but also demonstrated their recognition of the wide gulf that now separated them.

Ing shed light on the rich psychological value of Chinese mourning rites by juxtaposing them with the West’s modern mourning traditions, which seem comparatively scant. Ing referred to French historian Philippe Aries’s conceptualization of Western civilization’s shift from the “tamed death,” where death was something experienced at close range by most everyone and individuals died on deathbeds in their homes instead of sterile hospital gurneys, to the “forbidden death,” where modern mankind’s clinical separation from this biological fact produces social tensions and anxieties when death nevertheless intrudes on our daily lives. To illustrate this, Ing pointed to contemporary pop culture productions such as the George Clooney film “The Ancestors,” which depicts the difficulties of mourning the death of a loved one in a modern, technologically-oriented society.

Though modern society’s mourning traditions might have some glaring gaps, Ing’s assessment wasn’t overly bleak. He cited examples of recent innovations that make death seem a little less scary. One groundbreaking idea for an ingenious kind of coffin gives new meaning to the term biodegradable: the coffin’s structure would contain hardened soil as well as the seed for a tree. By decomposing along with the biodegradable encasement, the deceased’s body would support new life by nourishing the tree’s budding roots.

Professor Ing’s talk took what is usually a somber topic and turned it into a lively and interesting discussion. His refreshing account of ancient Chinese mourning customs allowed participants to view this important facet of life in a new, less depressing way. We appreciate your lecture, Dr. Ing, and we’ll stay tuned for the next one!

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IU Hosts First International Symposium on Chinese Language Teaching and Learning

From October 24th to 26th, approximately 340 scholars and language instructors from all over the world gathered in Bloomington to attend the first International Symposium on Chinese Language Teaching and Learning. This symposium was organized by the Chinese Language Teachers’ Association (CLTA) and co-sponsored by Indiana University. Professor Yea-Fen Chen, executive director of CLTA anddirector of IU’s Chinese Flagship Program, took a leading role in organizing the symposium. Faculty from EALC and the Center for Language Technology also offered logistical assistance and technical support. Graduate students from several departments on campus, as well as undergraduates from the Chinese Flagship Center, volunteered in various capacities during the symposium.

The symposium consisted of 46 panels and some 150 presentations. Just before the event officially began, invited lecturer Dr. Shuhan Wang from ELE Consulting International made an appearance as part of a colloquium co-sponsored with the EASC, speaking on the topic “Going Global: Development, Challenges and Opportunities for Chinese as a World Language in the United States.” Paul Sandrock, the director of education at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and Professor Shou-hsin Teng, chair professor of Chinese linguistics at Chung Yuan Christian University in Taiwan, both gave keynote speeches for the conference participants. Over 15 publishers and Chinese programs collaborated to present a book exhibition during the symposium.

CLTA is a professional organization devoted exclusively to the study of Chinese language, culture and pedagogy. It has approximately 1000 members around the world and is currently led by Professor Hongyin Tao from the University of California at Los Angeles.

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IU Hosts First International Symposium on Chinese Language Teaching and Learning

On November 4, IU Maurer School of Law hosted the 2014 China Law Forum, the inaugural event for the new Academy of Chinese Law and Comparative Judicial Systems. The academy is the product of a long-time partnership with one of China’s top law schools, China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), as well as the Collaborative Innovative Center of Judicial Civilization (CICJC). Though this event was the first of its kind, there are many more to follow.

At the China Law Forum, criminal law and forensics experts assembled to discuss matters in their respective fields of expertise. Topics ranged from China’s criminal evidence system, its forensic service system, reform of its criminal procedure law to promote the protection of human rights, the role of expert witnesses in court proceedings, and others. Translators were present to assist if and when presenters used Mandarin, and the warm atmosphere was enhanced by the exchange of gifts between the two countries’ law scholars. Following the presentations was the academy’s inauguration ceremony, after which participants remained to socialize during an informal reception.

The 2014 China Law Forum, symbolic of increasing cooperation between China and the US in economic, legal, and cultural arenas, offered a unique opportunity for IU and CUPL scholars to interact face to face, discussing issues of import to both parties. We look forward to seeing how the vibrant partnership between the two institutions develops in the future and congratulate them on the formation of this new and promising academy!

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